Down the memory lane

Four Malayalis, who lived in Chattisgarh for years and worked together at the Bhilai Steel Plant visit Kerala to meet their old friends  
Down the memory lane

KOCHI:  Once a month, four veterans—PRN Pillai, N Ramadasan, MNC Pillai and GVK Nair—meet at each other’s home in Bhilai, to play cards or talk about politics, and reminisce the years spent at Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP). One day, Ramadasan dropped the idea of visiting their ex-colleagues in Kerala, and the rest of the group agreed. They set out on a January morning by the Korba-Thiruvananthapuram Express. When they reached Palakkad a couple of days later, they were received by Padmanabhan who worked in the accounts department of BSP. Later, they met Balasubramaniam, and then met the old team spread out across. “One of our colleagues had died, so we went and met his wife,” says Pillai. 

The group met friends all over Thuravoor, Vaikom, Kottayam, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, Mavelikara, Pandalam, Pathanamthitta, Adoor, Kottiyam, Karunagapally, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram. In Thiruvananthapuram, journalist Anil Philip met them. His late father K V Philip had worked in BSP for 42 years. “With the help of Anil, we were able to meet many families in Thiruvananthapuram,” says Pillai. At most of the places, people remembered their life in Bhilai and shared unforgettable anecdotes with the quartet. 

“Bhilai is a well-planned city designed by the Russians. There are wide streets and plenty of greenery,” says Pillai. The steel plant was set up on February 4, 1959, during the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru. Back then, the plant had an employee strength of 55,000. “There were more than 5,000 Malayalis employed there,” says Pillai. 

In the end, the group managed to meet 75 families and travelled 750 km across the state. And barely a week after they returned, they received the sad news that KV Nair who lived at Cheriyanad near Mavelikara had passed away. “He had come and met us,” says Pillai “Nair was around 75 and was in good health. He had gone to the Mavelikara General Hospital to get a certificate for his daughter, suffered a sudden heart attack and died.” The group is grateful they were able to meet Nair. “We are all in our 70s and 80s, so time is running out for all of us,” says Pillai. “We are glad we were able to make this journey.”  he concludes. 

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express